Sasuke stood against a wall, frozen in terror as his elder brother's battered body loomed ever closer to him. This was it; the final battle between the two blood brothers of the Uchiha and he was going to lose. He was going to die once Itachi was done tearing his Sharingan from his eye sockets, just like he had done when he was caught in his brother's Tsukuyomi. He could feel his breath hitch; his knees shaking uncontrollably as deep innate fear flooded his mind. His hands were so close. Sasuke was trapped, weakened, and completely at the mercy of his brother's will.
After everything he had been through, this was his fate? He had betrayed his village, betrayed his sensei, and betrayed his best friend all for the sake of power. The power to kill this man in front of him; Itachi Uchiha. This man; the man who had slaughtered the entire Uchiha Clan, the one who left him alive so he could test his capabilities, and the person who Sasuke had once looked up to and admired with all his heart. Was he doomed from the start? To never be able to carry out his revenge? Sasuke didn't know. He watched as the blood-coated fingers moved towards his face.
But then, Itachi whispered something to him. His voice was so worn and soft, he almost didn't catch it.
"Forgive me, Sasuke…this is it…"
The two fingers tapped his forehead instead of gouging out his eyes.
It was a simple action with so much meaning behind it. Itachi always did such a gesture to him when they were younger, oftentimes to tease him or to tell Sasuke he was too busy to train him and that he'd do it "next time". It was back when they were still…brothers. Sasuke stared at his brother, too shocked to move a muscle. He felt the fingers slide down his face, blood trailing down as they began falling lifelessly from his chin. Itachi fell forward, his head slamming against the wall behind Sasuke. Dropping to his knees and collapsing to the ground, Itachi fell.
"Yes…this is it…" were Itachi's last thoughts before his world was consumed in darkness.
He didn't know how long he had been stuck in that darkness. It certainly wasn't what he pictured Heaven or Hell to look like. Was this considered limbo? If that was the case, then why was he there? After killing his entire clan except his brother, forced said brother to become revenge-induced by feeding him lie after lie throughout his life, committed numerous assassination missions during his time in ANBU, and making numerous innocent souls suffer beyond compare, he was almost positive he'd end up in Hell.
Who was there? Was there some other poor wretch lingering on in this endless expanse of blackness?
The voice was getting louder. In fact, it sounded like it was coming from right next to him…
He felt a splitting pain and the darkness cleared up into the world he had supposedly left. He shot upwards, grabbing hold of the assaulted area on his scalp. He clenched his eyes shut, half from the blinding sun overhead and half from the throbbing on his head.
"Hooray!" the voice said cheerily from behind him. "You're okay!"
Itachi took his hands down from his head, turning it to see who spoke. Instead of a face, he got a face full of something soft and…fleshy.
"Ooooooooh! You're cute AND handsome!" the, now known, well-endowed woman squealed as she hugged him ferociously. "I'm so happy the Soul Society Captains picked me this year to help souls pass on in this place! Some of the men here are absolutely dreamy!"
There were many thoughts running through his head at that moment. How was he able to see clearly when the Mangekyou Sharingan nearly caused him complete blindness in his battle against his brother? What happened to Sasuke? Who was this woman? Help souls pass on? Soul Society? Captains? And how in the world was he still alive?
Strong arms were wrapped around his head, forcing him farther into the "crevice of death". Itachi attempted to pry the woman's arms off him so he could breathe, but she was a lot stronger than he first thought. She did eventually let go, allowing Itachi access to the wonderful element known as oxygen. He backed away a considerable amount from the woman, his face flushed due to the suggestive position he had been in. Never in his life had he seen a woman have the audacity to shove a shinobi, much less Itachi Uchiha, S-Ranked missing-nin and the prodigy of the Uchiha Clan before the massacre, in between the "mounds of Venus" before and he never wanted to experience it again. Ever.
The woman looked to be in her early twenties with shoulder-length strawberry-blonde hair and ice blue eyes. A pink cloth was wrapped around her neck. She was dressed in a black kimono; though the opening to the kimono was scantily placed, causing her assets to be highlighted. She was currently pouting, her arms folded across her voluminous chest.
"Oh, come on now. I'm not gonna bite," she said.
Itachi remained silent, still willing the flush on his face to go away. Never in his years as a shinobi had he been thrust into such a vulgar position. The woman seemed to be oblivious to his obvious discomfort, so she got closer to him. He instinctively backed away from the woman's face as it got closer, not wanting to end up in the same position as before. She smiled at him in a friendly manner.
"I get it. You're one of the new ones, aren't you?" she guessed, her face mere centimeters from Itachi's. "Don't be scared. Things will be alright. It's only natural that you'd be confused since you just died."
"What? I'm…? But how? I thought…" he stuttered, his eyes widening slightly.
Her face became solemn as she pointed a finger at his chest. Itachi blinked in confusion. He looked down and noticed it; a broken chain was connected to his chest. He felt his heart jump into his throat as he saw the object. Why was it there? What exactly was it? Now that he took notice of it, it seemed as if gravity had decided to increase on him, making it harder for him to breathe. He made a move to grab the chain, but his hand seemed to move sluggishly as he did so.
Taking hold of the object only strengthened the reality that he was finally dead. Sasuke had "avenged" the Uchiha Clan. He would return to the village now. He could bring honor back to a revived Uchiha Clan. The truth behind all Itachi's actions would follow him into the afterlife, never to be revealed and seen by the light of day.
"So…I'm really dead?" he said.
"Yes," she explained. "Your Chain of Fate is broken."
"Chain…of Fate?" he barely breathed out. The woman gave him an empathetic smile.
"When the Chain of Fate is severed from the body, the soul is released. It's often hard for the soul to move and breathe soon after death, which is what you're experiencing now. But you won't have time to get used to it.
"Because I'm going to send you to the Soul Society."
He blinked owlishly at her. "Soul Society?"
"Yeah," she said. "In your terms, you would call it 'Heaven'. You'll never go hungry there and you'll be happy."
"So, you're an angel?" Itachi asked.
"I'm beautiful like one but, unfortunately, I'm not. Do you see any wings here?" she laughed as she flapped her arms up and down like wings. "I'm a Soul Reaper. Also known as a Shinigami, or death god. Our job is to help souls with lingering regrets in the World of the Living pass on to the Soul Society."
"Lingering regrets?" Itachi repeated.
He placed a finger to his chin. He didn't have any regrets, so why was he here? Unless…Madara! Madara Uchiha. If he told Sasuke about what happened to cause the Uchiha massacre and why it happened, surely Sasuke would go on a rampage. He wanted to protect his village and his brother, not end up creating another potential enemy! He couldn't let that happen.
"Listen," the woman said, a serious tone in her voice. Did she read his thoughts? She was smarter than she looked. "You can't stay here. You risk harming loved ones and family members if you linger on in this world for too long."
Itachi's posture stiffened and this did not go unnoticed by the Soul Reaper. She reached toward her sword and pulled it out. Itachi's breath hitched as he attempted to assume a fighting position. The attempt was botched, since Itachi still hadn't gotten used to his new soul form, and he painfully fell to ground.
"Sorry, but I need to do this," she explained. "We Soul Reapers need to protect all the souls in the World of the Living. I must perform a Konso on you immediately."
Itachi was silent for a long while, as if weighing his options.
"…If you must," Itachi said, his stiff posture relaxing. "However, there's something I need to ask you."
The woman blinked as Itachi looked her in the eyes. She could see that this particular soul had suffered far too much for someone at his age. He didn't look much younger than she did and a certain somber air seemed to hover around him. The facial crevasses on his face made him appear older than he really was and it looked like he was in a constant state of sorrow. She felt pity for this soul and whatever he had suffered through in his life. She knelt down beside him, sword in hand.
"What is your name, Soul Reaper? If you are dead like I am, I am certain there's a chance that we may meet again in the future."
"Aren't you the gentleman?" she joked. "I'm Rangiku Matsumoto. Nice to meet you…?"
"Ooooo! A weasel!" she mused, giggling while Itachi deadpanned at her.
She raised her sword so that the hilt was a few centimeters from Itachi's forehead. The hilt glowed a bright blue color before she stamped it on him. An overwhelming sense of peace filled Itachi's body, his mind going black as his vision faded.
"Bye bye, 'Tachi! I hope to see ya again, you lil' weasel," were the last words Itachi heard before unconsciousness claimed him once again.
He groaned as he willed his eyes open, blinking several times to adjust to the light in the room. A shoddy wooden ceiling greeted him. He sat upright, stretching his sore muscles as he looked around the place he was at. It was a simple room. He was laying on a futon that looked like it had seen better days. There was a separate futon lying on the opposite side of the room and there was no door in the doorway, but cloth hanging overhead was a makeshift. Itachi started rubbing his eyes to make sure they weren't playing tricks on him.
The sound of walking feet caught his attention. The door flap opened, revealing an elderly woman wearing a shabby kimono. Her graying black hair was tied up in a bun and she carried a pot in her arms. She smiled sweetly at Itachi as she went to his side. She placed the pot down before kneeling on the floor.
"Finally awake, I see," she said. "I'm glad that you're alright."
"Who are you? Where is this? Why am I here?" Itachi immediately questioned. He was on edge. Being left in an unfamiliar building and lying in a futon while apparently being cared for by an old woman; it was not what he expected when he awoke. Speaking of which, when did he ever fall asleep in the first place?
"Easy, child," she shushed him. "My name is Megumi. This is my home. I found you not far outside the District, lying unconscious in the middle of a wasteland. You were wearing a white kimono, so I knew you were a new soul."
"Hold on…District? New soul?" Itachi repeated. His death and the meeting with Rangiku briefly came back to him. This place must've been the Soul Society she had been talking about. With that in mind, he visibly relaxed.
"This is the Soul Society," she explained, confirming Itachi's suspicions as he looked at her in the eyes. "There is the Rukongai, where all the new souls from the living world come to when they pass on, and the Seireitei, where the Soul Reapers and the nobility live. The Rukongai is split into four sections, North, South, East, and West, with a total of eighty districts within those sections. The higher the district number, the more dangerous it is."
"Which district is this?"
"South Rukongai, District seventy-eight; Inuzuri, also known as Hanging Dog," she answered.
Itachi turned away and sighed. What did he expect? After everything that he did in his life, he couldn't ask for luxury. He was lucky for being able to pass on at all instead of going to Hell. He turned back to Megumi and smiled a bit at her.
"Thank you for your hospitality."
"It's no trouble at all, sweetie," she said with a wave of her hand.
"I wish there was something I could do to repay the kindness you have shown me…"
"If you wish that, then I'd appreciate it if you would stay here," she said. "You remind me of a little boy I took in. Sweet little thing. A shame that this place was too rough on him. I see so many children wandering these streets like stray dogs with no one to care for them. I've grown old. I cannot do things I used to be able to. If I can give someone like those children a chance, I'll die happy again."
Itachi remained silent. Even in the afterlife, people still suffered. This was his chance to begin again. A chance to make better choices. A chance to make a difference.
"I'll take you up on that offer, Miss Megumi."
"Thank you, dear. May I ask your name?"
"Weasel?" she laughed.
"I know it's uncommon, but it was what my mother wanted to name me. Do not laugh at it."
"No! That's not what I meant. I like it. It's a unique name compared to the overused 'Keiji' or 'Shinji' you hear nowadays." She smiled brightly at Itachi. "It's nice to meet you, Itachi Uchiha."
It needed to be done, I swear! I read through the various stories where Itachi Uchiha is sent to the Soul Society after he dies and I was rather disappointed by some. The authors make the Soul Society automatically notice him and then he is automatically given a rank on a silver-platter. Where's the struggle? Where's the training? It's unbelievable! Itachi may be a genius, but he still had to work hard to get to the skill level he was at!
So in this story, I hope to make Itachi's rise to becoming a Soul Reaper more believable, which means he's right at the starting point for most Soul Reapers; Rukongai. He's gonna go through tough times and he's gonna work to become a Soul Reaper.
I did a lot of research over the past few days, coming up with his Zanpakuto, its name, potential Bankai, what powers it would have, what the Zanpakuto spirit looks like, etc. So, I hope you enjoy! Please review!